Sunday, April 26, 2009
This was Session Road in bloom
I kept on saying it over and over that morning, and I'll say it again here now: last Wednesday, April 22, 2009, also known as Earth Day, was truly Session Road in bloom.
I was even feeling a bit guilty that morning that we had to drive to town, but having three energetic kids in tow does not make for an easy commute from where we live to downtown Baguio. So off we went, I dropped the whole family off at the top of Session Road and parked at the mall where I had to do some errands. Half an hour later, I joined them.
Walking down from the mall and still a good distance away from Session Road, and there was already a different feel to the area. Session Road sounded different – without the sound of car engines, you hear the laughter of the people more, the sighs, a man clears his throat, a blind man playing a tune on his battery-powered electronic keyboard.
I entered Session Road, a quick glance at the hideous concrete pine tree, and looked for my family - and there were my children on all fours telling their stories with colored chalks. My eldest son Leon spelled out the word EARTH in various colors and forms while my youngest Aeneas drew what looked like tree-lined road. My daughter Gabriela tried to draw earth, but as she tried to add more bright colors to it it started to look more like a sun bursting with colors. In the end what she had was a simple kaleidoscopic orb.
People smiled, said hello, people breathed(!), in Session Road(!). It wasn’t a sunny morning, in fact it was quite overcast. But the feeling, yes Session Road felt so different that morning, was warm, it was nice. Baguio, on that gloomy Wednesday morning, felt like Baguio again. There was a different sense - a sense of community, something that seems to have been missing in recent years. Something that was totally missing the last time they closed down Session Road to traffic.
What is it with wide open spaces that our honorable (for surely, these are honorable men, and women) powers that be just can’t seem to stand it that they just have to mess it up. Last month they closed down Session Road for a whole week of crass commercialism, it was insane. And some have even claimed that this was among the best Baguio Flower Festival celebrations ever. Sorry but I just don’t see why anyone can be proud of being responsible for the rape of Session Road, or Baguio for that matter. For a whole week last month Session Road was a picture of greed, of senseless materialism, it was an orgy! For a whole week people squeezed in between other people and commercial stalls, shouted over loud speakers asking them to buy this and that not knowing, or caring, that for every item sold a piece of the city’s soul was sold with it.
And at the end of the day, this was how they measured the success of this year’s Panagbenga: how much money the city, and some people, earned. None of them cared how much of the city’s soul was lost. But that’s the thing about abstract concepts such as a city’s soul – you can’t put a tag price in pesos on it, and the honorables just don't get it.
It's not about power, remember? It's not just about money, right? And then there was that Wednesday morning on Session Road: both children and grown-ups down on their knees making known their hopes and dreams for Mother Earth, for the environment, for Baguio; last Wednesday, it felt like we were once again one community, working together to make the world a better place. That, dear honorables, that's what it's all about.
And then the heavens acknowledged a community’s prayers and let down the rains, and the colors and stories on the pavements merged and became one. Last Wednesday, Session Road looked, smelled, sounded, felt different. Again, without the madness, without the pollution and noise, Session Road was truly in bloom.
In the afternoon they let the cars in again. They gave that orgy known as Session Road in Bloom one whole week, and they couldn’t make that beautiful Wednesday last a even just whole day.